Activity Starters to Get Kids Outside
Time outside has many benefits, include some that we don't always think about. Children develop long distance vision and stave off nearsightedness by replacing screen time with outdoor time. Physical development, mental health, and success in science are all benefits of spending time in nature. Regardless of the nature in your neighborhood, kids benefit by being present in the green patches, big and small, around them.
Here are a few suggestions for some fun outdoor activities that you can do with kids:
Outside I spy: This classic car game can be applied to nature. Play this game on your daily walk to get kids (and you) excited about spending time in nature.
Counting colors: Nature provides an excellent platform for developing vocabulary and identifying colors. Ask your child to spend 1-minute counting all of the colors they see. Notice and discuss the multiple shades you see. The sidewalk may be lighter on one side, with disrupted color along a crack. Various shades of green can be found in one patch of moss. Repeat the activity to see how many colors you can count.
Counting sounds: A great quieting technique when you need to transition to a new activity, or when leaving the playground. Stand silently and count all of the sounds that you hear. Children can hold up a hand and physically count off until they reach 10 or they silently count to themselves. This activity promotes mindfulness, attention to detail and hones children’s sense of hearing.
Ban the “Ban” on sticks: Teach children to play with rocks and sticks responsibly and remove barriers to nature exploration. Rocks and sticks can be used to teach kids to estimate measurements. Limit picking up rocks to the size of their fist and sticks no longer than the length of their elbow to wrist. Teach children good manners just as you would with inside toys. Rocks can be tossed in a stream but not near people or animals. Sticks can be home to fascinating lichens or bark patterns.
Troll homes and Fairy Castles: Enlist your children in springtime yard cleanup. Gather twigs, leaves, and other natural materials to construct troll houses. These materials can then be added to a brush pile that provides habitat to backyard critters like birds and squirrels.